The German sprinter drops down into the Pro Continental division but could find himself stepping up again

André Greipel could find himself back in the WorldTour as his new team plans to join the top tier in 2020.

The German sprinter has left Lotto-Soudal for the Professional Continental outfit Arkéa-Samsic.

Despite taking the step down, Greipel could return to the WorldTour as his new team, previously known as Fortuneo-Samsic, hopes to move up after next season.

The team’s general manager, Emmanuel Hubert, told newspaper Ouest France: “The WorldTour must arrive very, very, quickly.

“I had a project for 2021, but my ambition is to be there from 2020.”

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Lotto-Soudal abruptly announced Griepel’s departure during the Tour de France, but did not give a reason or give details of his future plans.

The following week, Arkéa-Samsic announced they had signed the 36-year-old for two years.

Greipel is one of the best sprinters of his generation, with 11 Tour stage wins, seven Giro d’Italia stages and four from the Vuelta a España to his name.

He has struggled to perform at his best in recent years, having not won at the Tour since 2016.

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But Greipel showed his class at the Tour of Britain in September, picking up two wins over the eight days.

French banking and insurance company Arkéa has joined Fortuneo-Samsic as the lead sponsor, reportedly boosting the team’s budget from €8million (£7.1million) to €10million (£8.9million).

The UCI currently allows 18 WorldTour teams to race at the highest level with all of the vacancies currently filled, but that hasn’t knocked the team’s plans to move up in 2020.

Hubert added: “Of course, it is not by recreating a season like 2018 that we will put all the chances on our side” – the team won just two races this season.